For most people the films of Andy Warhol were more fun to read about then to actually watch. In the case of films such as the 485-minute Empire (1964) or Sleep (1963), at 321 minutes, it’s hard to imagine someone watching these in their entirety in one sitting. I don’t even think Warhol expected viewers to watch these in real time but to wander in and out of the screenings like you would at a video installation. But even at revivals of the most popular and infamous Warhol titles such as The Chelsea Girls (1966) and Lonesome Cowboys (1968), you can bet on numerous walkouts during the screenings, not from outrage but boredom or disinterest. At the other end of the scale, however, are the short, silent black and white films he made when he was first experimenting with the medium and his Screen Test series shows a brilliance of concept and execution that could easily turn naysayers into converts.
The idea of a nude restaurant where the clientele and wait staff are composed of various members of Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd such as Taylor Mead and Viva wearing little more than skimpy black briefs may not sound like the most appetizing destination for dining. Yet, as a film, The Nude Restaurant (1967) is a lively, frequently hilarious and occasionally despairing communiqué from the underground for those who have always avoided or dismissed the experimental cinema of Andy Warhol as something boring and interminable based on seeing snippets of 1963’s Sleep (a 321 minute static camera study of John Giorno asleep in bed) or 1964’s Empire (a 485 minute single shot portrait of the Empire State Building from dusk until approximately 3 am) or just reading about them. Continue reading
Los Angeles has served as the backdrop for countless Hollywood movies but in Jacques Demy’s Model Shop (1969), the French director’s first and only American film (if you don’t count the 1984 made-for-TV movie Louisiana), the city becomes the real protagonist. With its sprawling urban landscape, oil derricks, desolate beaches and constant traffic, it provides a vivid canvas for a contemporary love story about romantic longing, missed connections and unrealized dreams. Film writer Clare Stewart referred to the film in the film journal Senses of Cinema as “a road movie that doesn’t go anywhere” but that’s not a putdown. It’s an apt description of what Demy was trying to create here – a drifting, dreamy mood piece. Continue reading